Taming tantrums.


Summer is in full swing and I am so pleased. I’ve been long looking forward to the easy days of park visits, farmer’s markets and floating in the pool. And I have certainly enjoyed all three already, but what I failed to factor into my dreamy sigh to these sunny days was the moods of my not-so-predictable, very independently-minded two-year-old. It’s a rare outing that doesn’t end in a full blown meltdown, usually involving some kind of shrill screaming and dangerous bodily contortions. As you might imagine, L’s not the only one blubbering by the time we tumble through our door after such an episode.

It always starts off quite pleasant, of course, even if getting out of the house is slow going. Like I’m talking, you attempt to help her in any way and she’ll stubbornly retrace her steps so she can do it on her own. SLOW. My patience levels are at their peak to begin the day though so that obviously helps. It’s that damn trip home where it all goes sideways. Essentially, any time we do anything remotely fun, I know there is a high chance it will end in tears.

On the bright side, I noticed a real shift this past week. My ability to channel my inner calm has improved and, I believe partly as a result, Leni has been having fewer tantrums. It’s not that I didn’t know that she and I would be better served if I could just keep cool and collected before, it’s just so much easier said than done.

A few things clicked for me recently, which have helped me regain my sanity and perspective. First, as I mentioned, almost all of the most public tantrums were occurring on our way home from outings and often when I was sans stroller, wagon, or carrier (in other words, when I was lacking a quick exit strategy). So for my own sanity, I have started to employ wheels once again. Or if, say, we go out for a walk with her doll stroller or hop on the streetcar, I am now fully loaded with my handy old Ergo carrier as back up. A block can take upwards of an hour depending on her mood and that doesn’t always jive for me. Sorry peanut. This new plan also means my energy has improved as a result–I feel less trapped, thank goodness–and that has helped us both.

Another thing that has really sunk in is Leni’s seemingly fundamental need for independence and her frustration when she doesn’t get it in the way she most desires. While I have known this for a while, I couldn’t seem to figure out how to help her properly or prevent even predictable meltdowns. How do you help your kid when they don’t want your help? The answer, in my case, is to find a new strategy. A super stealthy, non-obvious way to subtly move her where I need her to go. And so I’ve been more consciously explaining what we are doing and why and then asking her to cooperate. The result? A real improvement in the way she responds to me. Sometimes she’s really upset and can’t explain exactly why, of course, but at least I know the likely culprit. And so I feel less helpless in the face of the dreaded meltdowns and stronger as a result. That strength, in turn, has made me more gentle and compassionate with her and myself.

And you know what? I’ve been rewarded on so many levels already. Not only have some of the tantrums subsided, but Leni has been offering me more affection as well. I’ll take all I can get, thank you very much.

Plus, I’m feeling far less frazzled, which is definitely a better look for me.







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